Personal Responsibility Essay Introduction

Personal Responsibility Essay Introduction-68
In the etymology of "responsibility," the (1787), and the Anglo-Irish political thinker Edmund Burke (1796).

In the etymology of "responsibility," the (1787), and the Anglo-Irish political thinker Edmund Burke (1796).

The original philosophical usage of "responsibility" was political (see Mc Keon, 1957). In all modern European languages, "responsibility" only finds a home toward the end of the eighteenth century.

This is within debates about representative government, that is, government which is responsible to the people.

Recent analytic moral philosophy has tended to ask two deceptively simple questions about responsibility: The first question is usually taken as a question about moral agency, the second as a question about holding people accountable for past actions.

As noted, however, this does not capture the variety of uses that we make of the concept.

In fact, there are several important uses of responsibility as it relates to individuals, which this article will tackle in turn.

There are also important questions about the distinction between moral and legal responsibility.Nor does a concern with free will correspond to many everyday issues about responsibility – for example, questions of mutual accountability, defining a person’s sphere of responsibility, or judging a person as sufficiently responsible for a particular role.This Encyclopedia article will mainly deal with the responsibility of individual persons; another article considers collective moral responsibility.We can see this by observing that both questions might mean something quite different, leading us to four distinct topics, as follows: is most often asked by philosophers as a question about the foundations of moral agency.What sort of creature can properly be held responsible for its actions? To explain and justify this reply, philosophers tend to turn to psychological and metaphysical features of normal adults, such as free will. We often praise some people as responsible, and criticize others as irresponsible.Would the truth of determinism eliminate such responsibility?Recent moral philosophy contains many attempts to show how responsible agency might be with the causal order of the universe.It also enables us to relate responsibility to its original philosophical use, which was in political thought. It is also, as Paul Ricoeur has observed, "not really well-established within the philosophical tradition" (2000: 11).This is reflected in the fact that we can locate two rather different philosophical approaches to responsibility.Later sections also comment on the relation between legal and moral responsibility, and on the responsibility of collectives.The article discusses four different areas of individual moral responsibility: (1) Responsible agency, whereby a person is regarded as a normal moral agent; (2) Retrospective responsibility, when a person is judged for her actions, for instance, in being blamed or punished; (3) Prospective responsibility, for instance, the responsibilities attaching to a particular role; and (4) Responsibility as a virtue, when we praise a person as being responsible.


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